Health Ministry: Spread of Zika here may mimic Singapore

06-Sep-2016 Intellasia | The Malay Mail Online | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Zika virus infecting people worldwide has followed a typical cross-border proliferation as other illnesses.

Health Ministry’s disease control division director Dr Chong Chee Keong said such epidemics usually spread along predictable patterns and Malaysia might suffer a similar fate as Singapore if swift action is not taken to address the spread of the virus.

“If you look at what is happening in Singapore, the virus initially started as a small cluster, but spread into a bigger area as infected mosquitoes multiplied and took the virus to other spots,” Dr Chong said.

“People infected were also rapidly moving about, causing the virus to spread even further as they exposed themselves to Zika-free mosquitoes.”

It was reported the first Zika outbreak in Singapore, the most densely populated country in the world, occurred in the Aljunied-Sims Drive area before spreading to neighbouring spots including Paya Lebar and Kallang Way.

Dr Chong said the population density and the level of urbanisation are all contributing factors to how fast a disease could spread in a particular community.

“In a high density and well-developed country like Singapore, a vast number of strangers are in constant close proximity of each other which escalated the disease-transfer process.

“It would be a different story with underdeveloped rural settings where people are less likely to mingle with strangers and less likely to meet people who have travelled,” he said.

Dr Chong, however, said it was too soon to tell if the pattern of Malaysia’s potential Zika cases would mimic Singapore’s as there was only one confirmed case to date.

“There is a possibility it could be the same, but more investigations are needed before we can conclude how it would spread here,” he said.

Dr Chong said Malaysia currently had leverage in the situation as the only known Zika case here, a 58-year old woman from Bandar Botanic, Klang, has been successfully tackled.

“It is difficult to stop sporadic Zika cases, but as of now, we can stop a potential outbreak,” he said.

He said the early detection of Zika here had allowed the ministry to intensify anti-Aedes efforts thus ensuring the problem was tackled from the root cause – the mosquitoes.

“Source reduction is the key solution here and it includes fogging activities,” he said.

“Fogging, as a tool, is actually 100 per cent effective in killing adult Aedes mosquitoes, but there are several other factors, like the wind direction and humidity, which may affect the outcome of the exercise.”


Category: Health

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